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Union members protest at stockholder meeting of BNSF parent

By | May 2, 2022

‘About 60’ protesters picket at Berkshire Hathaway meeting, SMART-TD says

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Group of people holding picket signs outside building
Group of people holding picket signs outside building
Union members picketing outside Saturday’s Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in Omaha, Neb., pose for a photograph on Saturday. (Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, via Facebook)

OMAHA, Neb. — Railroad union members, who have been increasingly vocal about working conditions and the lack of a new contract, protested Saturday at the annual meeting of BNSF Railway parent Berkshire Hathaway, picketing and handing out leaflets outside the meeting site.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen has also taken out ads in the Omaha World-Herald [see “Union ad takes aim at BNSF, UP leadership …,” Trains News Wire, April 22, 2022] and employed two mobile billboards to circulate during the Berkshire meeting weekend.

The International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers-Transportation Division was among other unions also participating in morning and afternoon protests at the CHI Health Center, site of the Berkshire meeting. The SMART-TD website indicates “about 60” protesters were present.

The World-Herald reports that Dennis Pierce, president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, said in a Friday press conference that BNSF and Union Pacific are both “off the rails” for their current labor practices. Along with calling for a resolution to negotiations for a new national labor contract now well into their third year, Pierce criticized attendance policies at both railroads.

“The attempt is to keep people from taking a day off, and it’s working,” Pierce said. “It’s also driving people out of the industry.”

BNSF spokesman Ben Wilemon told the newspaper the policy was to provide consistency of crew availability and scheduling, saying, “as with any other business, delivering for our customers requires employees to be available to work their assigned shifts.”

The SMART-TD site says union members are also in the early stages of planning another protest at the North American Rail Shippers meeting in Kansas City, May 9-11. Four Class I CEOs are scheduled to appear at that meeting.

7 thoughts on “Union members protest at stockholder meeting of BNSF parent

  1. This is a microcosm of our entire nation determined to drive itself off the cliff into the abyss.

    Here we have the world’s best railroad confronting the world’s most capable and dedicated work force, the two sides unable or unwilling to come to terms. If these two groups can’t find a way forward, then no one can.

  2. Well said Charles. I wonder what the “Professional Iconclast” would say to this event? Blessings

  3. American Airlines just announced they have fired 50 “stand by” flight attendants for calling out sick or not showing up when placed on the schedule. AA pays these junior attendants to be on call in case there is a staff crunch. With all of the flights being cancelled and rescheduled, AA has been calling in more standby and they are not coming in. They said more firings are coming.

    Southwest Airlines expanded their schedule post covid but found out that many of their union pilots that were on stand by were not going to come in everytime, causing lots of cancellations, which causes more standbys to be called.

    Are the expectations too large or the resources available too small?

  4. It’s not a symptom of a low unemployment rate-at least at the bnsf. It’s a symptom of their policies, mainly their attendance policy and their complete unrealistic expectations. I challenge anyone in this country to work 2 weeks straight on 10 hours rest through weekends holidays etc…….just to get a couple points back and that’s after working 12 to 18 hours every trip which contrary to their so called averages is very typical especially in all the terminals in California. People are leaving because that alone. I’ve seen at least 2 dozen since February just because of the new attendance system. The carrier can spin it any way they want but to get to the root of the labor problems they are having and are going to have for the foreseeable future they need to change their stance on their work and rest issues. No one wants to do what railroaders do anymore because they want a balance with work and life it’s just that simple. So anymore of this tight labor market is just plain false. Let’s say for 1 second that that’s true, in a tight labor market companies need to entice quality people to hire. Harsh availability policies, mediocre pay,and a lifestyle that puts you away from family and friends for extended periods of time aren’t exactly ways to do that. So until they figure that out we can and will keep hearing the same old song and dance that they play for a long time to come.

  5. Well mr mulligan when the unions exhaust all the steps of the railway labor act which is well on its way it very well may happen. Only time will tell but it’s not going to be long before there’s an answer.

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